Switzerland rejects petition to declare Biya persona non grata in Geneva
Cameroon’s long-serving president, Paul Biya has not been barred from visiting his favorite Swiss hotel or even Geneva anytime soon.
This is despite an initiative led by a member of the Grand Council of Geneva, Sylvain Thevoz to prevent him from entering the town.
The initiative was launched in June 2019, following large demonstrations by the Brigade Anti-Sardinards (BAS) to denounce his stay at the Intercontinental Hotel. The petition was addressed to the Grand Council Geneva and sought to have President Paul Biya declared persona non grata by Geneva.
Earlier reports indicated that a majority of the 2,855 cantonal deputies, national councilors (lower house), and state councilors (upper house) pledged to support their colleague in his quest.
Public support for the move was also demonstrated as over 11,000 signed the online petition just within 72 hours of it being launched.
Sylvain Thévoz’s petition earned some 27 votes for and 43 against as the Grand Council of the Legislative Assembly of the Canton of Geneva put the issue to vote at their last session.
Reuters’ Geneva correspondent, Emma Farge took to twitter to announce the decision. “Cameroon’s President Paul Biya is still welcome in Geneva after parliament votes 43 against 27 for on a petition to see him declared “persona non grata” following anti-Biya protests outside the Intercontinental last year,” she wrote.
The decision comes after President Biya surprisingly spent the past few months back in Cameroon. It is believed he was held back by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as a tense political atmosphere generated by the Cameroon Renaissance Movement, CRM since the 2018 presidential election.
Prior to regular protests for him to return home, the Head of State and wife, Chantal Biya spent most of their time at the Swiss Intercontinental Hotel.
The Wall Street Journal in a report last year indicated that he had spent close to 50 years of continuous patronage at the hotel, a record.
In addition to spending huge sums of money at the structure, it served as a getaway for the Head of State and wife from the ongoing Anglophone crisis raging back home, the war against Boko Haram and a host of other issues.
Though still in Cameroon, the President’s public appearances remain as rare as he was not even seen at the 75th UN General Assembly.
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